NGT Refuses to Set Aside Closure of Auto Dealers Near Bellandur Lake
On February 20, the NGT had taken cognisance on its own of media reports and photographs of the incident in which a fire broke out in the Bengaluru lake.
Representative Image. (Photo: Reuters)
Automobile dealers based near Bengaluru's Bellandur Lake failed to get a reprieve today from the National Green Tribunal which refused to set aside their closure order. A total of 76 polluting industries around the lake were shut down by the authorities in pursuance to the green panel's order after a mound of garbage was set on fire in February this year, leading to massive pollution in the area.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar issued notices to the Karnataka government, Lake Authority of Bangalore, state pollution control board and Central Pollution Control Board and sought their reply on the plea of car dealers within a week. "You are making it difficult for the people to breathe and live their life. People are coming to the court saying there are deaths taking place due to the pollution. How can you do it? "You are not maintaining any record of the hazardous waste generated by you. Show us the mechanism or any document as to how you collect the waste. We are not going to do anything," the bench said.
The counsel appearing for the automobile dealers told the bench that the authorities have shut down their units which were located more than 15 km away from the lake. He said they were strictly complying with all the norms and not discharging any effluent in the Bellandur lake. "The audit report by Maruti shows strict compliance by us. If any of the dealers does not comply with regulations, the dealership is instantly cancelled. We are in no way responsible for pollution in the lake. In fact, those units should be closed which have released effluents," he said. The matter was listed for next hearing on June 8.
The tribunal had earlier directed authorities to ensure the closure of 76 polluting industries around Bengaluru's Bellandur lake and ordered the city's Deputy Commissioner and the authorities to ensure immediate disconnection of water and electric supply to these industries. It had also directed that housing societies and residential complexes near the lake will have STPs working within the prescribed parameters, failing which their power and water supply will be snapped too. The green panel had directed the joint inspection team comprising officials from Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board and the state pollution control board to jointly inspect all sewage treatment plants (STPs) that have been installed by housing societies and residential complexes near the lake.
Slamming the local civic bodies for inaction, the bench had banned dumping of any kind of municipal solid waste around the lake and announced an environment compensation of Rs five lakh on anyone found dumping waste in and around the lake. Earlier, the NGT had lashed out at the Karnataka government and its agencies responsible for the lack of maintenance of the Bellandur lake, asking them why they should not be prosecuted for negligence. It had earlier issued a notice to the Union Environment Ministry, the Karnataka government, Lake Authority of Bangalore, state pollution control board and Central Pollution Control Board in the case.
On February 20, the NGT had taken cognisance on its own of media reports and photographs of the incident in which a fire broke out in the Bengaluru lake. "It is reported that there were thick clouds of smoke which severely hit traffic and people living around the lake. It is also reported that usually a pile of garbage around the lake is set on fire and there was total panic.
"Undoubtedly, such emissions are bound to have an adverse impact on the environment, ecology and human health. It is a matter which requires serious investigation, remedial measures and restoration of the lake to its original wholesome status," it had said. Thick clouds of white smoke persisted for several days in the air around the Bellandur Lake after the blaze.
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